We hear a lot of negative things about the "next generation". They spend too much time on their  phones. They are too self involved. They have a sense of entitlement. Those are the kids we hear about. The rest of the "next generation" is too busy changing the world to be bothered by what we have to say or think.

Elijah Evans of Youngsville is one of those young people that is changing the world. Elijah knows what it's like to have the world against him. He grew up in a home where his biological mother abused him by placing him in a tub of scalding hot water when he was two. After extensive medical treatment to repair his burned body, Elijah then spent three years in foster care. He was eventually adopted by one of the nurses that helped care for him.

In eighth grade Elijah decided he would give back to those victims of child abuse he had come to know during his own childhood. His dream was to host a Christmas Party for children in foster care, because he knew what being in that situation at that time of year felt like.

He started his fund raising efforts by visiting with local churches, schools, civic organizations. He sold raffle tickets and t-shirts he designed. He recruited volunteers to help out and he eventually raised the money he needed. That was the first of his "Christmas of Hope" parties that have now become an annual event. He has formed an official organization called " No Use For Abuse" to help pursue more initiatives to help abused and foster children.

For his efforts, Elijah Evans was named one of American's Top 10 Youth Volunteers by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. He was given $5,000, an engraved gold medallion, a crystal trophy for his school and a $5,000 grant from the Prudential Foundation for the nonprofit charitable organization of his choice.

Congratulations Elijah, you are a walking testimony to what is right about your generation and a shining example of what's good in Acadiana. I am sure your friends, family and fellow students at Comeaux High School are very proud of how you represent them and yourself.